The circumstances of the morning appeared to be stacked against us, namely an assortment of free cocktails and a 2:30 am bedtime, but it is also worth mentioning the coldest temperatures yet, as well as the wind and rain. We left Cornell and headed to a amazing cafe in Elmira. Coffee and brown bread (a delicious molasses based treat) rejuvenated us to an extent but braving the cold was still tough. Once we got going things improved as we rode out of the rain, dry cold is infinitely superior to wet cold. Better yet we actually had our first significant tailwind in recent memory. A few climbs were welcome as they warmed our core temperatures and before we knew it the riding was very enjoyable. Yet as the day wore on I noticed my feet starting to numb and eventually they just felt like bricks. Now would probably be the time to complain about the cold but in light of the fact that we rode through 110F temperatures earlier in the trip I find myself refraining.
We knocked out 40 miles and were nearing the town of Owego, NY and figured it would be a perfect place to stop for lunch. On our way into town we passed a FEMA shelter and in the back of my mind I thought of the recent flooding in the area. I also began to notice a few houses being gutted on the outskirts of town. Then we dropped down a hill and there was debris everywhere, all of a sudden it struck me that the town had been absolutely destroyed by the flooding. I was reminded of the aftermath of a blizzard with massive snow piles but rather the piles were the remnants of the house’s interior. It seems that the houses had been completely gutted and the inhabitants belongings were piled in from of the house and then plowed away into fields. I have never in my life seen destruction on this scale and was absolutely shocked by the extent of it. I would have taken more pictures but the nature of the devastation seemed so personal that it didn’t quite seem appropriate.
We are lucky enough to be staying with some of Joe’s relatives in Vestal NY. As we were nearing their house Kevin (the dad) passed us and warned us of an upcoming hill. As it turned out the hill may very well have been our largest climb since Missouri. We ended up having a truly enjoyable evening with them as they took us out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant. Our hosts could not be more hospitable and it was a pleasure meeting them. -Lucas
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”